Sep 17, 2019

The real-world impact of the trade war

Reproduced from NPR; Table: Axios Visuals

The impact of tariffs has been difficult to quantify because U.S. retailers that pay them can choose whether or not to pass the costs on to customers.

In an effort to show how one quintessentially American business is handling the issue, NPR tracked prices at a Georgia Walmart over the course of a year.

The big picture: "When it comes to the prices inside NPR's tariff-inspired shopping cart, the average price change since August 2018 was a 3% increase," write NPR's Alina Selyukh and Charlotte Norsworthy. "That's almost double the current rate of inflation."

Yes, but: Prices haven't moved uniformly in one direction.

  • Over the past year the price tags on some items included in the "NPR basket" — a mix of items from across the store drawn up after consulting the 2018 lists of tariffs the White House imposed on imports from China, Mexico and Canada — actually got smaller.
  • "The two most expensive Chinese-made items in NPR's basket got cheaper: a TV by 12% and a microwave by 17%. That's because TVs and other electronics have been getting cheaper for years," per NPR.

Why it matters: "Many makers and sellers have so far chosen to absorb most of the tariffs, spread them across dozens of items, or pressure suppliers to bear more of the burden. Big U.S. retailers — such as Walmart, Target and others — get the final say on the price tags, and for them, jolting shoppers with price hikes is the last resort," they write.

My thought bubble: The fact that average prices of the NPR basket have risen by about double the rate of inflation suggests the tariffs are playing a role in increased prices even at a retail behemoth like Walmart.

Go deeper: NPR shopping cart economics: How prices changed at a Walmart in 1 year

Go deeper

United Cheapskates of America

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Retailers are under pressure to raise prices on a slew of everyday products. The problem: Americans have become too cheap to let them.

Why it matters: Our obsession with cheap stuff is tying the hands of some of the nation's biggest corporations — like Target, Macy's and Walmart — at a time when they're grappling with new tariffs and can't risk offending shoppers during the all-important holiday season.

Go deeperArrowSep 19, 2019

America is pharma's piggybank

Reproduced from the Ways and Means Committee; Table: Axios Visuals

Americans would save a boatload if we paid the same prices as other wealthy countries pay for prescription drugs, a new analysis from the House Ways & Means Committee confirms.

Why it matters: This is why the industry is so staunchly opposed to both President Trump's and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's plans to piggyback off of other countries' lower prices.

Go deeperArrowSep 24, 2019

The cost of Trump's tariffs

Data: U.S. Census Bureau via Tariffs Hurt the Heartland; Note: Lists 1-3 refers to USTR designation of Chinese imports subject to tariffs; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Tariffs imposed by President Trump have so far cost U.S. corporations $34 billion, according to data compiled by Tariffs Hurt the Heartland — a coalition of businesses and trade groups that oppose the tariffs — provided first to Axios.

Why it matters: Trade negotiations are set to resume Thursday, and corporate America is hoping the U.S. and China — whose tit-for-tat battle has cost companies the most — strike a truce.

Go deeperArrowOct 9, 2019